If there is one game that is synonymous with video games it is Mortal Kombat. Whether you love the franchise or have simply had enough no one can deny the impact Midway’s gore-filled fighting game has had on this industry. With Armageddon the MK team decided to end the series on this generation of consoles with a huge bang. Packing in every single character from all six previous titles, even the extremely obscure ones, and revamping the konquest mode make for what is easily the largest fighting game ever packed onto a single DVD.
The storyline for the game fits the theme in that this is the final battle for the kombatants of Earthrealm, Outworld, and all the others. While Ed Boon and his team have confirmed that they are working on a next-gen version of the series, he has hinted that many of the well-known fighters will not be making a return. With that said you can’t help but be amazed the first time you glance at the character select screen and see so many familiar and not so familiar faces.
Having this many fighters has a few downfalls though. For starters the fighting styles have now been limited to two per character as opposed to the three from the previous two titles. This may not sound like much, but if your favorite avatar has a style that you simply despise you are stuck with it and the weapons style, which can be a bummer. The fatality system has also been revamped, probably in most part to the large roster of fighters. This time out you can perform custom finishing moves by pressing different buttons in a certain order in succession. While this sounds cool in theory once you discover all the different combinations it really takes away from the individual fatalities that the previous games contained. This certainly takes away from the individuality of certain characters not to mention I was hoping to see some of the old fatalities revamped in full 3D.
Both Deadly Alliance and Deception set a standard when it came to extras. Aside from the standard brawling mode Armageddon also offers a collection of side games that really round out the package. First off is the revamped Konquest Mode which was featured in the previous two titles. This time around the MK team has taken a nod from the surprisingly good spin-off Shaolin Monks. Armageddon’s Konquest mode is certainly more combat driven than previous offerings and thankfully the mechanics have been improved substantially.
You assume the role of Taven, one of two new characters introduced in the game, as you progress through this mode. Along the way you will stumble onto various encounters with other characters from the MK universe just like in the aforementioned titles. You will also discover a variety of items that will unlock new items in the Krypt such as music tracks and of course unlockable characters.
Speaking of the Krypt this time around there is no secret as to what you will get when you are browsing its innards. Instead each selection is labeled and sorted according to the type of item. There are still plenty of things to find, but this time around you can simply pick and choose what you are obtaining as opposed to spending hours gaining coins or items just to see a new picture of Reiko. The size of the Krypt has also been downgraded from previous game offering only a measly 280 unlockable items compared to 676 and 400 respectively from DA and Deception. This almost makes the Krypt feel more tacked on than anything and we certainly would have loved to have seen perhaps more costumes or even endings from the previous MK titles.
The next diversion thrown in is a kart racing mini-game in the same vain as Mario Kart. In this mode you can choose one of only a few recognizable kombatants and face off in a small selection of tracks based off of familiar MK levels. This mode is very bare-bones and will certainly not win any awards for originality, but you can play it online which makes it a nice addition to the overall package. I do prefer the puzzle game found in Deception though this is certainly more fun than Chess Kombat.
In addition to the already amazing roster of 62 characters the guys at Midway have also thrown in a Kreate-A-Fighter mode that allows you to finally construct your very own MK character. While in theory this mode sounds fantastic it does have some issues that really drag down the experience. For starters you are only allowed one fighter per profile which I simply do not understand. This could be overlooked if not for the second biggest problem; almost all of the items used to personalize your fighter are obtained with the koins you collect throughout the game. So say you create several profiles for different created characters you will still need to play through the single-player to earn enough koins to buy more items. This is a really annoying oversight that I hope is remedied in the next iteration. On the plus side you can take your fighter online and battle against other players and you can edit your character as much as you want, but it would have been nice to have multiple kreated fighters on one profile.
The main fighting system remains mostly untouched with the exception of air combat. You can now launch your opponent into the air and continue your combo in mid-flight. This does add a new dimension to the franchise not to mention that it is fairly easy and fun to perform. In addition to the combo breaker found in Deception you can now parry moves as well, which is something that the MK games have been lacking for some time. This adds a new layer of strategy and eliminates the griping from players about guys who use the same move over and over to win. The rest of the game will be familiar to anyone who has played either DA or Deception and even after three games the engine remains solid even with the dial-up combo system.
Visually Armageddon gets the job done with great animations and a smooth frame rate. The levels are equally pleasing to the eye with tons of new stage fatalities and tiered arenas that you can battle across. The game truly shines on the Xbox with 720p support although we would have loved to have seen a patch to play it on the 360 when the game shipped. Perhaps we will get our wish before the end of the year. The PS2 version does support progressive scan and looks great as well, but to truly appreciate all the subtle details this game must be seen running in true HD on the Xbox console.
MK Armageddon is exactly what you would expect from the franchise’s final offering for this generation of consoles. With over sixty playable characters, kreate-a-fighter, and all the mini-games packed in you get more than your money’s worth. MK fans will drool with delight seeing some of their favorite fighters from every game packed into one arena. If you have never been a fan of the series Armageddon will not change your tune, but if you are an MK faithful such as myself you simply couldn’t ask for a better all around package to end the series on this generation of consoles.